“Dear Sirs: I am a Woman Orthopedic Surgeon”

An orthopedic surgeon shares why this male-dominated field needs more female and minority representation.

Only 6.5 percent of board-certified orthopedic surgeons in the United States are women, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the lowest representation of women in any medical specialty. While surgery in general is trending towards more female representation, orthopedic surgery has been lagging. It has been so slow to change, says Dr. Christen Russo, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, that she still gets letters of recommendation for medical students vying for orthopedic residencies addressed, “Dear Sirs.”

But change can happen, writes Dr. Russo in a recent opinion piece published in MedPage Today’s KevinMD.com. Since 2016, the orthopedic department at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center has grown from one female faculty member to 14 — with four women promoted to leadership positions. Today, one-third of the department’s orthopedic surgeons and resident trainees are women.

“Our representation matters not just for us but for our patients,” Dr. Russo writes. “In a field where I fought to be included for so long, I envision a future with first-generation diverse orthopedic surgeons strongly represented at all hospitals across the country.”

Read the full op-ed here.

Christen Russo, M.D., is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, and is an assistant professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is president-elect of the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society.

Additional Resources

  • Learn more about how NewYork-Presbyterian is helping to close the gender gap in orthopedic surgery.

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